Chapter 2, “Blessing God Who Has Blessed His People in Christ (1:3-14)” pp. 37-86
Paul generally includes some comments and/or a prayer after his greetings. Ephesians departs from this pattern by adding a benediction as well. The pattern of a benediction is common in Jewish practice (Thielman 2010, 37). “Paul’s benediction in Ephesians 1:3-14 is unusual because of the combination of its length, its sustained benedictory focus, and the complex series of dependent clauses” (Ibid., 39). Thielman does not think this is a hymn as it defies any sort of hymnic analysis (Ibid., 40). He does find that it is structured around several different repetitions (Ibid., 41). He divides his exegesis into four major segments: 1:4-6; 1:7-10; 1:11-12; and 1:13-14 (Ibid., 44).
Thielman begins his exposition with 1:3-6 (Ibid., 45). God is the blessed one who blesses his people with “spiritual” blessings. Paul normally uses this word to refer to the Holy Spirit (Ibid., 47). Concerning verse 4, “Conceptually, Paul considers God’s free choice of his people to be the clearest indicator of the lavish nature of his grace, as the frequent repetition of the theme of God’s gracious initiative in blessing his people shows” (Ibid., 48). Thielman considers it important in Paul’s thought when he states God’s favor “before the foundation of the world” as an indicator that God’s people could do nothing to merit God’s favor (Ibid., 48). Thielman discusses the placement of ἐν ἀγάπῃ as related to verse 4 or 5, deciding that it is more likely read in relation to the words before it (Ibid., 50). Moving on to the frequent discussions of “choosing” and “electing” he observes the redundancy fits with Paul’s account of lavish love and is not properly used to establish an ordo salutis (Ibid., 51).
The benediction continues in 1:7-10 “for His grace in redemption and revelation” (Ibid., 56). The emphasis shifts to forgiveness of sin in Christ. While there is some debate about 1:7 and the “ransom” specifically stating the price of Christ’s death, Thielman observes the idea is clear in other passages of the New Testament, though it may or may not be the intent in this verse (Ibid., 58). He goes on to discuss the use of “in all wisdom and understanding” from verse 7b, concluding that these are references to God’s character (Ibid., 61-62). The emphasis remains on God’s good pleasure to give blessings to his people (Ibid., 64).
Thielman identifies another shift in emphasis for ch. 1:11-12 as Paul praises God for giving his people an inheritance and a hope (Ibid. 71). The verb ἐκληωώθημεν cound beg for a direct object. We were made heirs - of what? Thielman considers that the emphasis is not on the actual inheritance but on God’s freely choosing to give his people adoption (Ibid., 74).
The benediction then turns to the fact that the Holy Spirit has sealed believers for the future (Ibid., 77). The blessing of God is not abstract, but applied directly to the believers in Ephesus (Ibid., 78). This was prepared beforehand and applied when the Christians believed (Ibid., 80). These people, Thielman says, are the ones identified as the “possession” of God (Ibid., 83).